Unemployment claims in the United States rise after hitting pandemic low

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell to 332,000 last week from a pandemic low, a sign that the spread of the delta variant may have increased layoffs slightly.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell to 332,000 last week from a pandemic low, a sign that the spread of the delta variant may have increased layoffs slightly.

Unemployment assistance claims fell from 312,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. This was the lowest level since March 2020. Unemployment claims, which usually keep pace with layoffs, fell steadily for two months as many employers, who are struggling to fill jobs, kept their jobs. workers.

Last week’s increase was small and may be temporary. The four-week average of jobless claims, which smooths out fluctuations in weekly data, fell for the fifth week in a row to just under 336,000. That figure is also the lowest since the start of the pandemic.

Separately, the The Ministry of Commerce reported that retail sales unexpectedly surged 0.7% last month, with Americans continuing to spend despite rising coronavirus cases. But the way they spent continues to be skewed by the pandemic. Online shopping surged in August, but spending at restaurants, bars and other crowd-dependent businesses appears to have stopped.

Unemployment assistance claims jumped by 4,000 in Louisiana, proof that Hurricane Ida caused widespread job losses in that state. Ida goes probably reduce the growth of the economy during the current quarter of July through September, although repair and reconstruction efforts are expected to make up for some of that in the coming months.

Still, Ida shut down oil refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi about two weeks ago and left more than a million homes and businesses without power. But Ida’s impact was limited: jobless claims fell slightly in Mississippi.

The job market and the economy in general have been slowed in recent weeks by the delta variant, which has discouraged many Americans from traveling, staying in hotels and eating out. Earlier this month, the government reported that employers created only 235,000 jobs in August after adding about a million people in June and July.

Hires in August fell in industries that require direct contact with the public, including restaurants, hotels and retailers. Still, some jobs were added in other areas, and the unemployment rate actually fell to 5.2% from 5.4%.

The steady decline in weekly jobless claims coincides with a reduction in assistance to unemployed Americans. Last week, more than 8 million people lost all of their unemployment benefits with the expiration of two federal programs that covered concert workers and people out of work for more than six months. These emergency programs were created in March 2020, when the pandemic first ravaged the economy.

An additional 2.7 million people who receive regular state unemployment assistance lost $ 300 a week federal unemployment supplement last week.

Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press






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